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We continue coverage of geostationary satellite imagery by showing examples of images acquired at different times and subglobal locations by non-U.S. satellite systems including Meteosat (Europe), Indiaís Bhaskara, centered on the Indian Ocean, and Japanís Himawari series.

International Meteorological Satellites

The European Space Agency (ESA) began a geosynchronous satellite program (EurMetSat) in 1977 with Meteosat-1. All told, they have placed six Meteosats in orbit. These satellites sense in three spectral bands: 0.4 - 1.1 µm, 5.7 - 7.1 µm, and 10.5 - 12.5 µm. A recent Meteosat image, showing all of Africa and most of Europe,across the South Atlantic to Brazil, was taken during the day of June 26, 2000:

Another Meteosat image (daytime) showing all of Africa, much of Europe, and Brazil in South America; June 26, 2000.

This is a Meteosat-6 visible band image, a subset from the full scene, looking over western Europe, made on April 28, 1997:

Meteosat-6 image of western Europe, April 28 1997.

Recently, second generation Meteosats have been locked in orbit. Here is a scene centered on the Atlantic:

Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) view of the Atlantic Ocean from a geostationary orbit.

Russia started a new geosynchronous weather satellite program (GOMS) in 1995. Here is a GOMS-1 thermal band image over the Indian Ocean, made on February 28, 1995.

GOMS-1 thermal band image taken over the Indian Ocean, February 28 1995.

14-19: From an airplane, should you be able to see across the Strait of Gibralter on that February day? ANSWER

India and Japan have been active in designing, building, and launching metsats since the late 1970s. India's efforts began with the launch of Bhaskara 1 on June 7, 1979. There has since been two series (four each) of Insats (Insat-1A on April 10, 1988; Insat-2D in 1995), each with a visible and a thermal IR band. These are multi-purpose satellites also dedicated to communications and broadcasting. We show a representative Insat image (thermal IR; night) covering eastern Africa and southern Asia in the top image.

Insat-3 image (nighttime thermal) centered on the Indian Ocean; June 26, 2000.

Japan commenced its Geostationary Meteorological Satellite (GMS) program (Himawari series) on July 14, 1977, sponsored by its National Space Development Agency (NASDA). Their two goals were to create an operational system and to contribute to the worldwide Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) effort. This is a typical color image of the western Pacific:

Himawari image of the western Pacific.

Positioned at 140° E, the current unit, GMS-5, with a VISSR in the visible, thermal IR, and water vapor band (6 µm), produces black and white, individual, full-Earth views and color composites, such as that shown on below over the western Pacific.

Color composite GMS-5 VISSR image over the western Pacific; made using one visible and two IR images.

14-20: Two large land areas, both of which we think of as commonly with minimal cloud cover are in the upper image above heavily overcast. What areas? ANSWER

By combining images from GOES, Meteosat, and GMS, we can construct almost real-time, distributed, cloud coverage of most of the Earth's surface (exclusive of the poles), as reproduced here in the visible for April 28, 1997:

Near real-time cloud distribution coverage of most of the Earth's surface created by combining GOES, Meteosat, and GMS data, April 28 1997.

14-21: For global synoptic coverage, what is the distinct advantage that the geostationary image composite has over a comparable effort using polar orbiting metsats? ANSWER

Same day (near real time) coverage from all the above satellites is available at the Web Site Dundee University (UK)

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Primary Author: Nicholas M. Short, Sr. email: